Grief is one of those things that a lot of people really struggle with. Each person has different ways of dealing with or getting through grief. Just because it affects each person differently, there is a way to get through it and learn to live life differently. Whether you lost a loved one or have gone through a traumatic experience and feel like the wall in front of you is too high to get over, I promise you are not the only one. Living a life you love while enduring grief is possible and I am living proof of perseverance and determination to love life again.
When grief struck my life I wasn’t sure how to handle it. I knew of loss and heartache but I never knew the process of true grief until I had to experience it first hand. Once I lost my best friend to a drunk driving accident in college, (Read Here) it felt as if my world was turning upside down and I had no control over what was going to happen next. It’s nothing that you can prepare for and although I knew that, it never took away how hards of a process I was about to experience.
Having a support system is HUGE! I mean there is just no way someone can endure the pain of loss on their own. The support I had throughout the toughest event in my life to date was so fortunate. Catherine was such a nucleus for all our friend groups, when she passed I knew I had to be there for the multitude of other people who were hurting just as much. Since her and I were so close, it gave many people comfort to have my help during their coping. While this was such an amazing thing, to help everyone who loved Cat, the trade-off was losing sight of my coping and how I was going to get through this.
The battle with grief is that it takes time. The standard time frame to really get through the 5-stages of grief is a 3-5 year time span. I began to lose sight of just how to let grief in and especially how to embrace it. The two years following this loss was like nothing I could have expected. From feeling the highest ups to the lowest lows and everything in between, there are many points in coping that makes you want to shut the door on life and just hibernate through it all. I’ll be the first to tell you that urge to close out will continue to test you on this journey. But fortunately, I am about to share the best possible ways a self-griever can work through some of the most difficult times in their lives:
1. Let the Emotions run
Vulnerability is hard to face as it makes us feel as if we are too weak to keep it together. One thing I’ve learned from loss is that you can’t ignore the emotions. They will sneak up at the most inconvenient times and those are the moments to let them run their course and allow yourself to work through them. Holding on to that hard-shelled exterior trying to be a warrior will only make way for a full boiling over of emotions. As hard as it can be to let the tears roll, once you allow your feelings to take over, the emotional pain will escape your body and you can then look to move on.
2. Recognize the 5 stages of grief
Although it’s different for each person, there are 5-stages of grief that we all go through. Those stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. How or when we encounter each phase is different but it is important to identify each one as they come. One of the best things to do is write. From the day you experience the pain – or once you are ready – write down all your feelings, thoughts, temptations. Keeping a journal to go to when I wanted to share good news to Cat or when I got angry was one of the best ways to face my truths. Through this I then could recognize when I had to endure a phase of this journey.
3. Smile again
This is a very hard concept for a lot of people struggling with grief. Questioning how you could smile or be happy again when that whom you lost no longer could is very natural. We lose sight of our own lives and put everything on hold while this experience clouds our vision. But let me be the first to tell you that one of the best ways to get through pain is to find reasons to smile or laugh. Life goes on and it’s up to you to choose to continue to live it or let it pass you by.
4. Take up something new
Lastly I’d like to just say this is one of the most self-rewarding things to do in time of hurt. When there is something you’ve been aspiring to take up or do, moments when you need a distraction or change is the best time to make them happen. Take a chance on a new job opportunity, invest into a new hobby you constantly think about. Let yourself embrace new possibilities because change is what allows us to grow and succeed.
There is so much more involved with grief. But my hopes is that all of this resonates with someone out there in seeing that you are not alone. Unfortunate things happen in everyone’s lives, but it’s the way we handle them and persevere that defines our strength, Don’t be afraid to struggle or fail, but be hungry to get back up and face your fears.